Emotional Regulation to the Rescue!

Emotional Regulation to the Rescue!

By: Cary Zavala/

child cryingAs parents, we admit we sometimes come to the “end of our rope.” With the stressors of daily living, our children’s challenging behaviors can sometimes send us to a “10” quickly on the Feelings Thermometer! If you missed this month’s Parent Network Series, our topic of the evening was Emotional Regulation. We shared together some strategies that can help us “dial down” our negative emotions. We learned that emotions can interfere with communication and relationships and as parents, it is important to have “tools inour toolbox” to help us regulate our emotions. Some key points:

We are not typically taught much about emotions…and managing emotions is a skill that can be


There are family issues (and issues with children in particular) that can increase negative emotions

(frustration, anger, worry, sadness/depression)

Letting negative emotions get in the way can make bad situations worse, especially when another

person is involved (“Bungee-Cord Conflict”)

There are a variety of tools that can help us manage our emotions

Examples were shared that may help us get back to a more calm, relaxed state:

Disengage physically

-Take a personal time-out (leave the scene, go to own room or bathroom, walk, go outside) and plan ahead to

know how you will structure this to keep young children safe

-Watch TV, call a friend, take a hot shower

-Send child to time-out

Disengage mentally

-Count under your breath

-Take deep breaths (check out this super fun YouTube clip for belly breathing)

-Recall a pleasant scene (perhaps a beach, the woods, a meadow, playing in the park, etc)

-Listen to music, work a puzzle, clean, read, meditate (check out this resource a dad shared, entitled

“Weightless,” music created by Marconi Union in collaboration with sound therapists to help lower



Lighten the situation

-Use humor

-Change the subject

-Offer choices, all of which are acceptable (for younger children two choices works well – “this or that”

Empower yourself

-Tell yourself “I can manage this” and “Let it go”

-Plan ahead and prevent the problem

-Respond, don’t react

Join the Other Person

-Try to understand the other’s perspective (“stand in their shoes”)

-Actively listen

mom yogaLife with young children is both rewarding and challenging. We can all do a bit better job at making time to “fill our own pitchers” so we have something left to pour out into our children and families – and with our emotions better regulated.Think about what you already do that helps you relax and get calm when stress is beginning to rise…then consider one or two other strategies you could practice this week. Emotions are going to come up and it can feel like we are on a roller coaster! Put your self back in the driver’s seat by knowing YOU CAN regulate your emotions…which has a powerful and positive effect on the way you parent. A big THANK YOU to GREAT START for the resource “The Feelings Book,” by Todd Parr that each parent in attendance received. What a funway to teach our children about emotions and ways to help them manage. See you next month!

(Info taken from Implementation Sciences International, Inc.)

Cary Zavala


… is a licensed professional counselor and a skilled parenting educator. Cary is joining with Lenawee Great Start in presenting a series of Parent Education talks during the 2015-2016 year (register here to attend!).


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